Player’s Option: Skills & Powers (1995)

Player’s Option: Skills & Powers (1995) came out right on the heels of the combat book. Like that book, this offers a bunch of modular, optional rules, this time for character creation. Unlike that book, this one kind of demolishes the status quo of D&D. Essentially, this book takes the entire idea of randomly generated, class-based characters, pretty much the fundamental foundation of D&D, and pitches it out the window. In it’s place, it present a point-buy system (in the tradition of Fantasy Trip, Champions and GURPS).

Basically, you can use points to buy everything. You can use them to buy your attributes. You can use them to buy proficiencies. You can use them to buy class skills (Want a wizard with a longsword? Easy!). Basically, where once there were all these rigid classifications, now everything is modular and customizable. It’s amazing and I love it.

It is, unfortunately, totally broken. The killing flaw here is that the book doesn’t offer a total system, it offers several optional, modular systems. This allows you to replace the traditional attribute system and keep everything else, or swap out rigid characters classes, or whatever. The problem is that in arranging it this way, the discrete systems don’t really work together if you use all of them. Which is what I want to do. And, I think, what most people who see the potential here want to do.

And worse, using any of these options renders the characters incompatible with the larger 2E ecosystem — character kits and most of the custom stuff from the various campaign settings all require significant overhauls to work with this book. Which is a bummer, though an understandable one. Shame 3E didn’t pick this stuff up, though.

Jeff Easley does all the covers for the Options books, but this one is a real stand-out to me.

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